New Year’s Celebrations

New Year’s Eve (Nyttårsaften)

The celebration of New Year’s Eve in Norway can either be with family or friends. It can also differ from year to year.

On New Year’s Eve, Norwegians usually meet for dinner at the home of a friend or family member, or invite guests over to theirs. Norwegians love to bring in the New Year in high spirits of joy and happiness.

It is common to see Norwegians dressed their best to bring in the New Year. There isn’t a traditional dinner on this evening, some eat a version of Norwegian Christmas dinner while others have other meals.

After dinner, some parents will let their younger children play with sparklers or set off small fireworks before they head off to bed. Some lucky older children get to stay up til midnight to watch the fireworks.

When midnight is close, everyone spills onto the streets. There will be sparklers and small fireworks. Then at midnight you will see the town light up with bigger fireworks! Check the website of your local municipality for the locations of the municipal fireworks. At midnight everyone starts to wish their friends, family, loved ones, and neighbors “Godt Nytt År, takk for det gamle” (Happy New Year, thank you for the past year). There will be hugs, kisses, cheers, and calling over to other groups to wish them well in the streets. Be aware of the cold temperature, you might stay outside for a while at this time – so dress appropriately.

New Year’s Day

This is generally a quiet day spent resting from the festivities of the night before. Some Norwegians also make it a point to go to church on this day. The King will also give a speech on this day – this can be seen on TV.

Fireworks and Safety

Fireworks are a huge part of New Year’s celebrations here in Norway. Most municipalities will fire off amazing professional displays of fireworks when the clock strikes midnight on the 31st of December.  Check the website of your local municipality for the locations of the municipal fireworks. Due to numerous injuries, damages to buildings and other safety issues, there are now forbidden zones to set off fireworks.

With regards to private fireworks, rules and regulations tightened in 2008 prohibiting rocket type fireworks with stabilizers and fireworks looking like toys. From the 27th to the 31st of December, smaller fireworks will be available for sale to consumers. You will see these fireworks sold in stores such as Coop and Europris, among others. There will usually be big banners to let customers know that there are fireworks being sold in that store.

Note that there is a ban on executing fireworks the rest of the year except between 18:00 and 02:00 on New Year’s Eve (Permits are needed for fireworks during the other times of the year). Also be aware of fire safety, there are many more fires in Norway in the month of December than any other month. If you or someone in your group is going to be in charge of the fireworks, make sure they are not drunk.

Guidelines for use of fireworks (In Norwegian)
  • Plan for setting off of fireworks in good time. Find a proper place early on in the day.
  • Keep the fireworks away from children and pets.
  • Read the user instructions of the fireworks carefully before use.
  • Always supervise children who are using sparklers.
  • Check that the fireworks have not been damaged. Do not use the fireworks if visible damage is seen.
  • Ensure that the fireworks holder is sitting firmly on the ground and supported such that it will not tilt over when the fireworks start to go off.
  • Use a long rod lighter instead of matches or small lighters when lighting the fireworks.
  • Use protective eye goggles to prevent damage.
  • Never lean over fireworks which have been lit.
  • Don’t light fireworks again if they do not go off the first time. Let them stand for 30 minutes or put water in the holder.
  • Do not throw the fireworks in the trash – return them to where you purchased them from.
  • Many children look for leftover fireworks on 1st of Jan – ensure that you have kept them all.
  • Keep a safe distance from the fireworks.
  • Assign one or two people to be in charge of the fireworks and ensure that they are sober to manage the fireworks.
Avoid Eye Injuries During New Year’s Eve (In Norwegian)
  • Wear protective eye goggles.
  • Do not give fireworks to children.
  • Always supervise children when they are playing with sparklers.
  • Do not give children too many sparklers at one time.